Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick survive beast of Open to share lead

Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick avoided the bloodbath and disaster that brought down golf’s best Saturday at a US Open.

BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick avoided the carnage and disaster that destroyed golf’s best Saturday at a US Open and set the tone for one last day of survival.

Zlatoris, who lost in a three-hole playoff at the PGA Championship last month, made just one bogey – an amazing feat on a beast of a Brookline course – for a 3-under 67.

“It felt like I shot a 61,” Zatoris said. “Whenever I made a mistake, I could get away with it or do something wonderful.”

Fitzpatrick, a country club champion with his 2013 US amateur title, has been equally stable, catching three birdies on his last five holes for a 68. He will be in the last group of a major for the second year in a row.

Most tellingly, they didn’t do double bogeys.

That’s what knocked defending champion Jon Rahm off the lead on the final hole. The Spaniard thought he saw everything – including a backhand shot off the base of a tree on the eighth hole – as he took three shots out of the sand in two bunkers.

Rahm’s first shot from a fairway bunker hit the lip and almost rolled into his footprint. His next shot found a plugged lie in a green bunker, and two putts later he had a 71 going from one ahead to one behind.

Rahm wasn’t upset with his swing on the last hole. If anything, he said it was getting dark and he didn’t realize his ball was on the sand. The USGA dispatched the last group at 3:45 p.m. to maximize television exposure.

Rahm looked ahead instead of what he was leaving behind.

“I’ve got 18 holes and I’m just one shot behind,” he said. “That’s the important thing.”

Zulatoris and Fitzpatrick were up 4-under-206, the same score as the 54-hole lead when the US Open was last played at the country club in 1988.

It’s not like Rahm had full rights to the lead. That Saturday at Brookline was so wild that Rahm was among eight players who eventually had at least a stake in the lead. Three of them didn’t even make the top 10, including two-time Major champion Collin Morikawa.

Morikawa, who shared the 36-hole lead with Joel Dahmen, had double bogeys on the seventh and 13th holes and could have had a third after a chunked wedge on #4, except he bogeyed a 25-foot putt made. He finished with a 77.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler wasn’t immune. The world No. 1 seemed to pull away when he pocketed a wedge from about 80 yards for Eagle on the par-five eighth.

He was 6 under and cruising until his wedge bounced hard over the green and into deep rough for a back pin on the 11th hole for 141 yards. He put two on the green and two putts later he was no longer leading. And it only got worse when three straight bogeys followed and he shot 71.

Seven of the top 12 players starting Saturday made at least a double bogey in the high winds and cool temperatures that made this sweater weather in June.

Rory McIlroy wasn’t on that list. His bleed was more of a slow bleed, mostly from a misbehaving putter. On his round of 73, he made a birdie.

All that, and this US Open was far from decided.

“It was one of the toughest days on a golf course in a long time,” said McIlroy. “I just had to grind it out and I did that on the back nine. Playing that back nine on even par today was a really good effort I thought. I just held my own in the tournament. That’s all I did tried. Just hang around.”

23 players entered the third round below average. Only nine remain with 18 holes remaining, all separated by three shots.

That takes a local star – maybe not the Francis Ouimet variety, but Keegan Bradley is big enough in Beantown that he heard his name chanted loud and proud as he marched to the 18th green. As a former PGA champion, he called it “probably the highlight of my entire life.”

He gave them reason to cheer. Three over to seven holes, Bradley responded with passion and birdies, five of them over his last 11 holes for a 69.

He was two shots behind with Adam Hadwin (70′) and Scheffler. McIlroy was three behind along with Sam Burns (71) and former UW golfer Dahmen, who didn’t birdie in his round of 74 but stayed in the game because he didn’t have any major errors.

The average score was 73.5 and only seven players broke par. Denny McCarthy made the cut with 3 over par. He finished his 68 before the leaders even got onto the course. At the end of the day he was 11th, five strokes down.

The US Open played as one.

“I knew it was going to be difficult,” said Dahmen. “I didn’t know it was going to be that difficult.”

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/golf/zalatoris-fitzpatrick-survive-beast-of-open-to-share-lead/281-b5e4611a-0c29-42af-b47d-76841ff34c41 Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick survive beast of Open to share lead

Emma Bowman

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